By Greg Aitkens
I am close to retiring from the work I’ve been doing for almost 40 years. I have thought a lot about being a Christ at work, and I will admit that living this out is a challenge indeed!
In the early 80s, I joined a major West Coast Life Insurance Company, to become an agent selling life insurance. This was a huge change from anything I’d ever done before, and in retrospect, it was a huge risk. I was married and had two kids, so there was a lot on the line. I had to make this work.
Having come from a rather bare-bones childhood, I remember making some VOWS. One was “becoming successful in the world” and the other was to “become an excellent golfer.”
Were these “vows” coming from our Lord through a sovereign word or a call from him? Absolutely not! These were things I wanted to do. I didn’t even know the Lord when these were being formed in my mind. These seemed to be the “right things for me to do” at the time, but were very worldly and focused entirely on me. I’ve since encouraged others to think very closely about the vows they make. Are they from us, or from the Lord?
Have you made vows as well? Are they from the Lord?
I was motivated to get into the financial services business for a couple of reasons: (1) I wanted to become an entrepreneur, to build something of my own, without having to “listen” to a boss. I wanted to be my own boss. (2) I also wanted to become an “interpreter” for others regarding financial affairs. As a young man, I found I was regularly frustrated by the ways financial advisors spoke to me. I barely understood a word they said. A new vow I made was to “speak understandable English” to the clients I was beginning to take on.
Getting started in the life insurance business was very difficult. It meant calling a lot of people, and some were cold calls. I liked the work and seemed to have some natural aptitude for working well with people. I got off to a good start and by God’s grace, the work seemed to be a good fit.
We had a large office of agents run by a manager who was lazy, in my view. I once overheard a conversation he had with another person, which revealed that each agent, like me, represented $’s for him. (He received overrides on what we sold.) To him, we were all just “pawns” in the game to increase his income. To me, he did very little to earn it. This is very common in the world of sales.
Are you in a very tough work environment right now? How can you be a Christ amid all the turmoil? Should you be looking elsewhere to fulfill your mission at work?
A few years later, I joined a very different firm. I’d developed a relationship with a successful advisor, who had become my mentor, so I joined his company.
I do remember attending a pivotal meeting where I had to decide whether I was going to join this firm, and I clearly remember a voice saying, “this could be trouble for you.” I quickly ignored the voice of warning, thinking I could overcome any obstacles which came my way.
I realized later that the “voice” was coming from the Holy Spirit! Well, I did experience trouble. I got cheated out of money and was betrayed by my so-called mentor. At the time, I was very angry, and harbored grudges and resentments for way too long after I left this organization.
Are you still harboring Unforgiveness from an old (or current) workplace relationship?
At about that time, I met Don, who introduced me to another company. This new firm turned out to be an excellent place to go. It was not connected in any way to the previous companies or relationships. I learned a lot, and I was contemplating changing the ways I was conducting business— to become a fee based financial planner.
I’d been praying a lot about these changes, and heard His voice say: Serve my people. This meant that I would need to learn a lot more about ANYTHING which was connected to the financial affairs of clients. My new learning curve began, and this change set in motion all kinds of blessings which continue to this very day.
After a few more years, I joined the firm I’m still with today. It has been the right culture of loyal Christian co-workers, who are hard working and ethical. It puts the client first above everything else. I now see that the introduction to this firm was anointed by God for me.
As a worker in His Kingdom for almost 50 years, I’ve seen a lot of good, and some challenges as well. Here are some suggestions for all workers in his kingdom:
- We first serve our Lord Jesus in our work. Even in work cultures which are not particularly Christian. I believe our work should not just be a job or career, but a vocation or even ministry. This is what God has called us to do!
- Find the right workplace for you. What are you good at? What are your gifts and talents? Where can these be applied in the best ways?
- Be careful about “vows!” Are these your own and worldly, or from the Lord?
- Pray about everything! Pray unceasingly for your workplace, and Pray that you can serve Jesus and others in your work. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:12-19)
- Learn to “turn-the-other-cheek.” We WILL encounter difficult and challenging people in our work. It’s crucial to live out the fruits of the Holy Spirit—especially Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, and Self Control. (See Matthew 5:38-42 and Galatians 5:21-22)
We’ll look at more suggestions for Worker’s in Part 2…